Mexican Suggestions for Northern Virginia
I need help finding a Mexican restaurant (or other Latin cuisines) in Northern Virginia. I'm staying in Ashburn and I'm willing to drive 30-45 minutes. I would prefer not to go into DC. Any price point is acceptable and I would like to avoid chain places. Thank you for your assistance.
I went to Manassas last week. I found that there are a lot of Mexican places there. I saw several taquerías and at least 3 Mexican bakeries. I picked up panes at La Mexicana Bakery (no relation to the other one in Alexandria.) They were good. I just got conchas and a few fruit filled empanadas (fruit wasn't very abundant inside) and some cookies for my kids. They have a small menu as well and the food comes with hand made tortillas. I ordered a pound of barbacoa (it was very good) to go and it came with a huge packet of tortillas and two very delicious salsas for around 12$...which could feed at least 3-4 people tacos. The tortillas were made earlier in the day and unlike factory fresh ones which stay fresh for up to 24 hours, typical hand made ones get stiff after only a short time. I heated them up in the toaster over and they regained their pliability and were good. I haven't had fresh home made tortillas in forever so I was content. They don't have some of my favorite items like churros because they don't serve fried pastries.
I ate dinner at Taquería Tres Reyes. The food was awesome. I highly recommend this place. I had sopes sencillos (topped with refried beans, crema, and queso fresco) and two tacos, one lengua and one barbacoa (it was de chivo or goat, not the Northern Mex/Tex-Mex style beef cheek that I am used to) and the taco meats were soooo delicious, especially the barbacoa. Tender, shredded but slightly chunky, nice and salty (I hate gristly and under salted taco meats!). The sopes were light and delicious and I could tell they mixed white flour into the corn masa. They don't use pork lard in the beans so any vegetarians who happen to read this and are craving Mex-Mex can enjoy several bean based dishes there. Their salsas were absolutely delicious. I also enjoyed an agua de jamaica (hibiscus punch). Everything was just so fresh and tasty.
I want to explore Manassas Mexican more. They even have a full fledged Mexican grocery store (not generic Latino or Central American with just a few MX products) and I saw a couple of Mexican carnicerías. It is supposed to be only 20 mins away from me but the traffic that way is heavy even at odd times of the day and the trip ends up taking up quite a long while. But I will be finding excuses to go back there and enjoy the Mexican food and explore more restaurants.
Had the buffet at La Jarochita, which is a combination Mexican bakery and restaurant in a strip mall on Grant Street (234) south of the railroad tracks. The Sunday Buffet is not for the timid, because it is packed and the customers are almost exclusively Latino. It is controlled chaos. For $10 I got to choose from a variety of items including Menudo, papusas, grilled chicken, freshly fried chicken taquitos, fajitas, etc. There's a lot more for me to explore here for future visits. Another restaurant, La Garage, in the same strip mall, also looks promising.
Since you're willing to drive- the suggestions provided so far are probably your best bets (I don't like to drive so have never been, fyi). But I just thought I'd throw out a suggestion in case anyone else is looking for more metro-accessible Mexican in NOVA.
I'm a fan of Guajillo in Rosslyn (right next to Ray's Hell Burgers). The food is excellent with high-quality ingredients, well-prepared. It's different from the SoCal Mexican I was used to growing up and I don't think it's Tex-Mex, so it's a little hard for me to define. For example, they have a seafood dish (scallops and shrimp, I believe- all very fresh) with a cream/tequila sauce (mariscos borachos maybe?), and they have an excellent skirt steak too, great flavor. And even though not traditional, I LOVE their sangria.
Anyway, just thought I'd cast my vote for Guajillo as a metro-accessible contender. In fact I think I'll head back this week, it's been awhile!
Ray's Hell Burger
1713 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22209
In Leesburg there is Los Tios Grill, 201 Harrison Street. In the Tuscaroro Mill complex (with Fireworks Pizza, Jasmine Chinese, and Tuskies - all excellent). Los Tios has excellent Tex-Mex food, drinks,and an outside patio. Avoid the other mexican places in Leesburg - very disappointing.
In Purcellville there is an excellent, but little known, Tex-Mex place. El Rancho Plus, 101 S. Maple Ave. Family owned with very good food.
2350 Clarendon Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201
Not much real Mexican in the whole area, especially not in that neck of the woods. However, for perhaps the best saltenas in the area, check out Betty's in the clock tower in Sterling - Rt. 7 just West of Dranesville Rd. AVOID the joint that's to the left of Betty's as you face it. There is a pretty full menu at Betty's in addition to the saltenas, which are featured on Saturday at a place in Arlington that's been raved over for years. There is also a Peruvian joint on the flip side of that same parking lot, though I think it's changed ownership and I haven't been since that occurred.
Can't remember if it's still there, but there was a decent place to the right of Betty's.
Right within more "proper" Sterling is a safeway (to know you're at the right place). Back near the goodwill is a sit-down Mexican place (haven't been myself yet) and then across the street a Mexican bakery and a few doors down another pollo place. I think that there is sometimes a truck or two along in that area, but I haven't been so lucky to try them yet (and they may just live near there - not sure).
New pollo place in Reston at the home despot. Another full menu place in Herndon is Pollos Inka. Near to that is Southwestern US in the form of Tortilla Factory, which is a nicely comfortable family place. And then there's Guapo's in Herndon, which is a small local chain.